EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

.....93 The Blame Trap.............................................................................................Contents Foreword........27 Everest....83 Suffering.......86 The Art of Restriction............................................................ Looking In..............................................................................................................98 The Pornographic Wasp...149 You Are What You Ingest....................................................................60 Have Your Cake and Eat It...18 Change Chaser........................................................................................................122 Time......118 They Laughed at Lowry...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................23 Easy......................108 The Reciprocal Universe.......................................................41 Goals...............................................9 Carp Fishing.........64 Intention..............................................35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option..................75 Night-travellers..............80 Reciprocal Returns...............................................................7 Be Nice...........................................................................126 Waterfall......................................................................................68 Looking Out..............................................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good.............................................114 There is No Land Rover............14 Catching Crabs .....153 ............103 The Power of Books.....................................................................140 Who am I to be a Success?..................135 What do You Want to do?......47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support......131 We Are All Dying..............................................

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my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. Geoff Thompson 7 . After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. I hope this proves to be just that. don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again.) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch.Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. magazines and my website. I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. quick read. (And whatever you do.

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There is a massive profit in being nice. 9 . The poem went. How bizarre. not because it is sweet.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. as long as you are not being nice for profit. rather because it is true. And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me.

and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. Some quoted great sages. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. and dedication. lost it and made it back again. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. speculation. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. The books have all been enlightening. about ethics. made it and given it all away. The business world can often be a very difficult. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. from theology to philosophy and law. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. about morals. about profit and loss. made it and squandered it. the art of making a living. lost it. cynical environment. Simply be nice. innovation. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. Nobody does 10 . risk taking. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). courage in business. It is not hard.

They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. But of course this is not true. Always. both with his time and his advice. What you give out always returns. Clocking Off. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. who is an incredibly successful writer. most inspiring people in my world are all nice.BE NICE anything for nothing. his work ethic even more so. The best. State of Play. It is the law. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. They are all generous. He is also an extremely generous man. His work is amazing. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. You’d be wrong. Paul Abbot. For those who don’t know him. He is a dynamo. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. He never stops giving. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. People are throwing work at him. He never stops being nice. I have a friend. There is no such thing as a free lunch. most attractive. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes.

If they are nice.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. Similarly. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. even create work for them. or offer them anything other than gratitude. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. And I am not talking 12 . And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. people will go out of their way to find. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. The effect is amazing. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. as is Paul. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. Ultimately. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. Glenn is thriving in business and life. people will help them tighten their game. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. struggling writers. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane.

People like it when you are nice. (Business types often mistake nice for weak.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. 13 . unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules.BE NICE about pseudo-nice. it will only find permanent abode with those who do. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. nice for the effect. There is no profit in being nice. I am only talking about the genuine article. nice to fit in or even nice to impress. Being nice because it helps others. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person.

the teaching. of which Edinburgh was but one. I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. As well as the tour. As you can imagine 14 . Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. and the heavy travelling schedule.

in fact. Peter has always been a mentor to me. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. In fact. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. my success. Someone – disgruntled by my work. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in.CARP FISHING I was stretched. tapes and 15 . until fate intervened. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. my profile. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. I was becoming anxious and angry. But I was handling it OK. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. that is. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel.

He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. nay ruined. It’s not cancer. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. had actually become his whole world. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. it’s not war in the Middle East. started taking medication. ‘It’s just carp fishing. Peter listened intently. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. dumfounded. it’s not starving children in Africa. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. It was more important to him than his wife. it had become everything. he was accused of using illegal bait. his home.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. It’s carp fishing. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. split up with his wife and even lost his home. Just before one of the major championships. 16 . his life. what had started out as a gentle pastime. his family. thought to himself.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. ‘Geoff.

someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. was just carp fishing. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. It was an opinion. His father said. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. and what has stayed with me ever since.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. Geoff. an individual. and a few letters. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. His father asked him. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. It’s not life and death. about not letting things become bigger than they really are. As Peter said to me. ‘It’s one man. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. and as we should all know.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. 17 . far from being important. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving.

yet still they didn’t try to escape. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. 18 . in no time at all. even when the fishermen removed the lid. After a few minutes it became clear to me why. What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. not them kind). I watched in awe as these leathery-faced.

face like a walnut. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly.’ Similarly. ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. 19 . the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again. The old crab.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory. on the offensive. I’d been there six years.’ came the usual response. The old guy. claws raised.’ I’d whine. went straight to work. (In fact.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. ‘I hate the place. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. thought for a second.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. like the crabs. It’s safe. ‘Oh about thirty years. tired of the unchanging replies. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. ‘This is a steady job. her face turned rolled-in-flour white. had pulled me back again. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.’ he said without hesitation. my peers.

20-years on. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. I had a family. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. after being pulled back a few times. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. Even today. I noticed that. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. HP payments. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. a mortgage. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. three children.

I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. even leave the country for that matter. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. I nearly fell over with the shock. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. if I really wanted to leave the factory. She retracted her claws. She wasn’t holding me back at all.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. I convinced myself. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. 21 . If I put my heart and soul into doing something. it wasn’t my fault. The fault was entirely mine. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. leave the city. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. my wife did something unprecedented. She gave me her permission. Then one night. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. even mountains would crumble. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. Well. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. But.

So much to do. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. I have never looked back. I climbed out of the basket. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. I could and would handle it. I snatched back my free will. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. This was my world. Me. so many places to go. 22 . I made a decision. It was brilliant. exciting and scary. I could be anything. my incarnation.

You will get what you steadfastly wish for. ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. I 23 . That price tag is change. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it. even if. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. at the time. To me.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. but getting what you want comes with a price tag.

‘Be the change we want to see. He said that we should. even permanent disorientation. a complete change of who you are. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. on looking through. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. face it and chase it. Only very few people in society really get this.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. This change can cause temporary. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability.’ In other words. Death of the old. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. rather than run from the change. go out and. the out-worn. the worn-out and the redundant. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity.

an exciting and empowering third option. it just as certainly means birth. you de-fang it. 25 . we see the birth of the butterfly. If you can be the change. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. to garner our courage and be the constant. bang on our bag gloves. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. if you live the change. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. So you have a choice.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. be the change. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. God’s great gift to mankind. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. offers us a choice. It is the only constant. if you are the change. Death of the old. only our resistance to it. But our free will. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. You can’t have one without the other. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. birth of the new. The good news is that whilst change might mean death.

26 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now. What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge.

I love it. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. Writing is easy. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand.’ Really? Writing is my passion.Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. It is what I do.’ they say. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy. But easy? I don’t think so. 27 . but then everything is easy in hypothesis. I write films for a living. It’s easy. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. ‘he writes all day.

Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. It hurt. ‘It happened so quickly. Everyone said. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. of course. (I’ll fucking show you. This is important. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin. People said. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. My first film went into production in January 2007. It 28 . Let me give you an example of how easy my job is. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. In this industry that is not unusual.

too harsh. No one wanted to make it. I could go on but I think the point it clear. It was too bleak. Natasha Carlish. so we (the producer. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. and I) financed it ourselves. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. the producer and Neil Thompson. but… I liked it. No one has it easy. All the rebuttals. of course. I loved it.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. I developed an iron resolve. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. the director) over two million pounds in finance. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. 29 . Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. It weathered me like an old oak. The film that won the BAFTA. No one thought it was good enough to finance. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. Life is difficult. had been done before. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars.

I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms. behind the times. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. He was in bits.’ 30 .Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me. He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. judgmental and a bastard to boot. I knew the feeling. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.

My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. but you can’t by-pass it. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. 31 . His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. had all but floored him. It can be soul destroying. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). after all.EVEREST This knock-back. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). despite his set-back. not least film-making. He felt his work was ready. It is tough at the high end of any business. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. in shape and filmable. where millions are lost on bad films. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. With a slight change in perception.

Now. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. at base camp. 32 . meticulous even. he could run a fast marathon.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. that is. He thought that this would be enough. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets. he never really heeded the council. His training was good. Until. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. To make his dream a reality. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase.

He was fit.’ Again. I’m a fit man. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. all experienced climbers.EVEREST He complained to his companions. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain. I am conditioned.’ Patiently the message was reiterated.’ he insisted.’ And here endeth the lesson. There is no air. he complained. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. ‘you don’t understand. it’s a good day’). Not being able to breathe was not normal for him. ‘Look. The higher you go the less there is. this is the norm.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. ‘No. I need to hear it sometimes. I should be able to breathe easier. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). It’s a high mountain. when you are on the mountain. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest.

It always gets me psyched up. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. complaining about the discomfort.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). back on my feet and moving. the lack of help. the inadequate industry support. 34 . Then I remind myself of this story. then so be it.

35 . family issues. so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. tilted a similar lance in my direction. a fellow writer. He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity). ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke.) I. he lives a charmed life.’ Another friend. on the other hand. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. etc. He has had it so easy. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. He had cancer. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. Let me try and explain. It found its way into his bones. Then he died. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. He was loved by many. how to live bravely. how to die with dignity. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. And that is not just good. They were all right. My dad lived a good life. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. He was right. phone call and my heavy heart bled. It was an even longer night.m. He was a good man. it is cause for celebration. disliked by none. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was.’ It was a long day. I got the five a. It was good. My lovely dad died recently. 36 .

a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. When she lay in that hospital bed. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out.’ I said. I loved his very bones. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and. not her mum – could break her out. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me.’ I trusted that this was true and it was. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. of course. it was not me he called out for. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. you can guess the rest. well. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. She is now happy and training to be a teacher. There was more to it than that.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. My brother died violently. but what happened to my daughter was good. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. When he died. It was not 37 . But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. She recovered. not her sisters. so much so that the love affair killed him.

But it was good. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. What is happening obviously needs to happen. My brother’s death was good. That is ultimately where we are all heading. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. It is her soul. It is her body. They will (they have and will again) save others. It is her life. 38 . For that reason alone. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. everything I write about and everything I think. I loved him. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. The illness is self-inflicted. nor my dad’s. It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. It is her story. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. It was difficult.

fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. Very good. especially my back-story. however. self-harm and illness. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. No regrets. mentally and spiritually. stole. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. I also fucked around.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. physically. No self-pity here. self-hate. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. betrayed my ex-wife. Much of it does not make easy reading. It was all good. more beautiful place. Each of these. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. We all have to atone. lost my integrity. a better. So it has all been good. It has been hard to forgive myself. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. 39 . The pre-fight. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. guilt.

so profound. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. he’s got it so easy.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. And when folks say. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. I do. 40 . Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. So. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I will continue to drink my tea.’ I will continue to smile. neither will I complain because it will all be good. Because I know they’re right. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. Everything that happens to me is.

because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. I admit.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. Instead I 41 . Though. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. do you think. Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers.

but very few actually putting it into practise. looking good. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. ‘I’ll forgive you. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. lifting heavy weights. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. Where I once toiled for shallow. And yet when we examine the world in which we live.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. sinewy mentality. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. but I’ll never 42 . when we closely examine our own lives. surface mastery – hitting hard. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. Oh. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul.

We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. To forgive! Now then. You can do it without even trying. as though it were a great virtue. You either do or you do not. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. but you don’t know what she did to me.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. I can’t forgive her. ‘Yea. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. It takes strength. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. It is not virtuous. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. Holding a grudge is easy. that’s a horse of a different colour. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . a physiological fight-or-flight. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture.

We do not. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. who you haven’t forgiven. under those circumstances. bladder and bowel. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells. as though for the very first time. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. and you have a recipe for disaster. even death. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. lungs. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. intestines. if you like. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. your body actually relives them too. therefore. a saber-toothed tiger.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 .

I often bragged to others that. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. I held many grudges.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. Forgive 45 . and for several years. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. working as a nightclub bouncer. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. what I was letting others do to me. In my younger days. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. I also felt empowered. or more specifically. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. ‘I will never forgive. In my experience. Forgiveness needs to be localised.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. As far as health and fitness is concerned. start with a little forgiveness. So if you want to stay fit for life. forgive yourself and move on. Start with yourself. forgiveness is cathartic. We all have skeletons in our closets. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. What ever they are. 46 .

In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. what they thought of the campus.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. the staff. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. however. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. I admire those that aim for the top.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. 47 . the library. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation. People want success but they don’t know what in. I always find myself asking.

What was interesting. The four per cent were also financially independent. in their community and financial affairs. But not enough to write home to mum about. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. This time. life itself) was posed. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. even disappointing. In fact. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. It was agreed. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. between them 48 . Interesting. you’ll probably agree. in their health. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. their relationships. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. even disturbing. ‘If you have goals.

But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. And I am not necessarily talking about money. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. And they are right. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. commitment and sacrifice. you don’t get them. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. It makes them official. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. it is fundamental. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . risk. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. but about time. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. If you don’t have them. You need a definite destination.

You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. or the port of beer-and-curry. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. They don’t want to pay the price. He is in fabulous physical shape. But very few make it because the journey 50 . then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. if necessary). Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. for instance. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. You have to get your eating down to a fine art.

It’s about the detail. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). Setting the right course It is easy to say. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. back where they started.GOALS is too arduous. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. Next on the course is the training. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. I know a million people that workout.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. making all the right noises. or even worse. working on the finer points and setting the right course.

And hey. He knew the right course. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. to destruction in fact. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. we’ve established this much. ask the right people. I practised hard and daily. I got it. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. in altering one or two minor points. He looked at my technique and. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. Consequently. I rarely pulled the throw off. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). but my course was off. when I sparred with other players. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . presto. The danger of goals Goals are essential. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. You could be the hardest worker in the world. but I was practising it wrong. he altered my entire course. The destination was set. I reached my goal in record time. those who are already where you want to be. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. In fact. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. If you don’t know the way. Never mistake activity for progress.

when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. I know I can do five. My friend Steve is a keen runner. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. He set himself a goal of five miles. When we set goals. Dave. The other day he went out for a jog. Sometimes we aim low and. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. ‘I’m being realistic. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. guess what. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. I think you’ll agree. The next week. it was double his usual distance. He was capable of more.’ he always told me. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. we nearly always do. but a common attitude nevertheless. we hit low.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. one of his friends at the running club. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. ‘But. 53 . Steve was unsure. He asked Steve to take his place. If I try for more. I might not make it. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort.

’ Dave said. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world.’ Steve ran the race. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 .’ said his friends. ‘Watch this space. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. So aim higher than you think you can manage. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. ‘just set your sights on ten. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. ‘Impossible.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. He is now preparing for his first marathon. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. Paradoxically. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. but not so high you lose sight of your goal. I would say. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry.

GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. Eventually. It isn’t always advisable to try. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. a college degree or a promotion at work. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. rather it might be your business. Day by day. For Milo. Instead. Like Milo. he grew with the bull. By picking up the bull as it grew. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. as the calf matured and fattened. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. build your business or increase your fitness level. Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. It could be anything. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic.

when the weather is clement. they scale to the summit of the mountain. They set themselves daily goals. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. then step by step. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. they attempt the peak. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. Others thrive on it. acclimatise and then. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. They buy a small house. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. If conditions are favourable.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. You can jump steps. acclimatise. I’m not saying that this is the only way. When they get within reach of the top they rest. They make their way first to a base camp. climb up more than one rung at a time. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. 56 . It is all done in pyramidic steps. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. It can be done. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. eat. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind.

The real value of setting goals is not. as you might imagine. As the dinner sizes decreased. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . worried about his health. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. the tenacity. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. the discipline. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. My mum. the weight fell off him. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard.

After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. their dream. He can’t.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. flying monkeys. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. But he doesn’t. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. On the journey. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. 58 . The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. in actuality they have. free of charge. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. symbols of their courageous quest.

there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. 59 . When I look at my lofty.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. Whatever your goal. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. nothing is beyond us. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. I can have anything. Rather I ask myself. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. we all can. mountains will move and rivers will part. I don’t ask myself. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get.

We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives. depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. 60 . all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. our health and the love and health of those dear to us. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. a loss.

The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. They start their day not by asking for more. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. It would be unwise 61 . Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. from four until six a. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. mentally and physically – for the day. One ounce of prevention.m. We all need a bit of invisible support. but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future. after all.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. is better than a pound of cure. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. Deepak Chopra. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. This is how great people achieve great things.). Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually.

end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. insight. and it is. But if you were to start now. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). It takes discipline. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. destined-to-arrive tomorrow. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). They say that pain is a good advisor. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. while the idea is fresh in your mind. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. however. You might. you. they (me. being more patient. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 .

‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). likely with the promise that.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. 63 .

to the size of a small continent. after a two-week holiday in Florida. isn’t it? 64 . but as a man with the propensity to grow. I have tried all the fad diets. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. It’s depressing. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. Now I don’t know about you.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. And they all work… but only for a while.

I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. In fact. weight gain. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. my legs start going all Sumo. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. though. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. I take every opportunity 65 . From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. My food-abuse period was over. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. sometimes even longer. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. I can be good for months at a time. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. Then I hit 30.

a dark cloud descends on my day. rationalisation. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. When the weight is on. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). I have tried them all. When I’m thin. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. however. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). And the apparel changes accordingly. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. wine. take-away curries.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. As I said. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. A man needs his strength after all.

and you can never let up. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. In the meantime. but it works.’ 67 .HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. but not all of what you want. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. Geoffrey. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut. It’s difficult. Have some of what you want.

When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God. This is both exciting and terrifying. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 .’ The truth is neither. We are creators of denial. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe.

then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. if you blame the government. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. They blame no one. your country. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. If you blame God. to blame. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. society. You always become a prisoner of those you blame. Similarly. Those that take responsibility 69 . anyone. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. city or town.

I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. And it was at this point that I got very excited. whilst at the same time creating violence. wealth. I resided consecutively. Personally. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. And that is what I did. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. I could learn from my own experience. I wasn’t exactly sure how. That made my reality very unpredictable. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. in both worlds. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. illness. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. In my time I have created health. sometimes concurrently. So how do you practise intention? 70 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. It was at this point that I got very scared. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. before I accepted responsibility.

it is in the Bhagavad-gita. until I could close my eyes and feel them.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. and the Tao Te Ching. if you desire. But more than anything else I practised judo. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. with study and diligence. I talked judo. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. I actually lived and breathed judo. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. Search out the truth from another source. the Koran. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. until I was 71 . What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. It is in the Bible. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. I watched judo. Not just your own intention. I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert.

you will get weekend results. intention is about everything I do. If you are a weekend player. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. reading it. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. or the opportunities to make it. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. they talk it. Intention is no different. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. then I do the same thing. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). Buy the books (my book. If it is wealth I am after. The Elephant and the Twig. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. 72 . attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). They think illness. You start by investing in the information and instruction. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. For me. into my life. you’ll start to see some decent movement. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. If you make it your life. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. read it. hearing it. they see and fear illness. If you practise four or five times a week.

She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She is at the top of her field. Then she had a thought. in a short time. as soon as she got the results. There was nothing physically wrong with her. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. It wasn’t always that way. sometimes months at a time. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. The scan was clear. Interestingly. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. She had no tumour. She thought about it all day long. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. the sight in her left eye returned.

hearing. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. He was earning $20 million. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. He was wrong. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. you can become an authority. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. feeling. seeing. the process is the same. And if you intend enough. and doing involves thinking. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. You practise by doing. Why not try? 74 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. Intention is a very learnable technique. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood.

The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. how very fucking invigorating. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge.Chapter 13 Looking Out. a medal. It’s good to be brave. But how brave are we? 75 . how exciting. Looking In Another marathon. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. another gruelling. another black belt. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. How brave. a trophy. The elements are conquered. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. We get a pat on the back. physically-stretching.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

I let them go. But if you really want peace. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for.’ That’s difficult. That’s a mountain to climb. ‘I forgive you.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. I let me (all of me) go. I forgive them. but it gets even harder. I don’t understand you. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. 79 . To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. you have to face them and say. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). stop working out and start working in.LOOKING OUT.

Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. In fact. Paul Abbot. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . This means that we avoid fear at all costs. he said it was fear. Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him.

take a step towards it. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. The people who see red lights as green. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . It is only that they change their perception of fear. So. which means we stop growing. It is not that these people do not feel fear. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. creep up on it. They feel it just the same. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark.

Be a night-traveller! 82 . Be brave. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. Fear feeds on your terror. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. It is nourished by those who turn and run. Start now. Make the decision. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. Be brazen. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. And when the fear rears its ugly head. When you stand and endure.

He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. and very fit. Not only was he getting tapped out. To be frank. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. he was completely out of his depth. defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. I could tell by his face (dispirited). I wasn’t sure. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . his gait (shoulders hunched. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. maybe 22.

‘Oh.’ I told him. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked. these guys are training twice a day. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue. ‘You are training twice a week.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 . I see the same attitude in all walks of life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing. ‘Well that’s your problem. Without fail.

The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. People want gain without pain. This is good news and bad. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. or shut up! 85 . banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. profit without investment and reward without risk. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. The returns are entirely reciprocal.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in.

There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. We can all endure suffering if we know why. If I can’t do this.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. I want my suffering to be for a reason. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. a medicine. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. something – a word. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. a premise. if my suffering is unavoidable. a sentence. then I at least want to make sense of it. an idea. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. 86 . maybe one century if I am blessed. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one.

And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. drink. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. Deeper still. but back to Coventry. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. I (like most) left my city. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. in books or conversations with gurus. back to my house. Every time I go out I am directed back in. There is no joy and little 87 . my body. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. Outside. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. left my country. my garden. there are two kinds of suffering. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. drugs. From my limited understanding. Go inside.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. That never knowing could kill us. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. sex. or worse still. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves.

an MA. perhaps because we do not know any better. poor. find out how to get well and stay well.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. fat or unfit. no one can abandon us. disappoint us. make us jealous. To stop this kind of suffering. become the most 88 . The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. under-educated. greedy. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. The responsibility for my health. angry. No one can offend us. do a degree. cheat us. The responsibility lies with you. depressed. a PHD. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. If you are really honest. if you own everything. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. we become their prisoners. not with the government and certainly not with other people. make us envious. If your suffering is health related. Become an expert. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. we need clinical self-honesty. no one can let us down. most of your suffering will end. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self.

In fact. Scour the internet. There are no more heroes. invest in books. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. But information will not drop out of the sky. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. History is brimming 89 . You need to hunt it down. Study economics. ask them their secrets. These options are open to everyone. So get out there. Don’t blame any outside forces. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. lectures and courses. Talk to the psychologically robust. It can be done. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. It has been done. much of it free. If your suffering is economic. earn your worth and ease your suffering. If your suffering is mental. put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. The information is all out there. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie.

or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. I’m not. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. I am boiling you to make you sweet. that is. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering.. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. ‘You think I’m torturing you. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. In fact. but have become massively successful at the same time. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said.’ 90 . When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot.m. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat.

you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. Handle it. again and again. if you are brave enough to do that. Do not turn away. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. If you don’t. Address it. Frankl suggests doing something radical. they offer you great secrets. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. Do what is necessary. Pain is a great adviser. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. then the 91 . Suffering is wise counsel. make decisions. Take responsibility. Your suffering wants you to see something. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. The answer is always hidden within the problem. until you get it. You must be worthy of your suffering. In these circumstances.SUFFERING When we are suffering. Right now if you can. It is an opportunity offered to few people. change and adapt. my recommendation is that you take it. but leave it behind. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. But heed the advise on offer. leave your suffering behind. to sit in it and examine it minutely. Sometimes you can’t. we all tend to look for an escape. If there is a way out. If you go into your pain.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). No one can help you with this. Once you take responsibility for yourself. Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. 92 . Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. It’s up to you. you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe.

because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. pugilism suited me. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. the fight always ended up very close and personal. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. I specialised in punching. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . culturally.

’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. When you have no range of movement. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. etc. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. And you do. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. chair. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. kneeling positions. even the most restrictive. Because of restriction of movement and space.). And then there was 94 . from on their backs. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth. Very quickly. their bellies.

You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. an indefinable energy. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ.’ It has as many names as there are cultures.’ the Japanese ‘qui. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. it also acts as an accelerator. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. people become big hitters much faster than normal. The Chinese call it ‘chi. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. Just as restriction can trigger 95 . Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone.

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the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96

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Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.

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Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

to garden. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. their wife. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. It does exactly what it says on the tin. People are forever telling me that they would love to write. you give her all your power. their environment. the mortgage. is very subjective. one I used (to death) as a younger man. ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. you’re stuck where you are. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. to sculpt. of course. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. you 99 . This very statement. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. or to teach but they can’t because their life. If you blame the environment. That means that until she says yes. Success.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. That’s when you find yourself thinking. circumstance or your upbringing. the kids. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success.

‘The money!’ 100 . Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. of course. And. I hated my lot but. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. blame and self-pity. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. again. As a fledgling. makes all those you love happy also. it means that. and by extension. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. Think about the job you do for one moment. until they favour you. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). then by definition you are exactly that. The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. then you have to ask yourself. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. you’re glued to mediocrity. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job.

You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). let’s keep things in perspective here. I like being scared. I agree. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. You see. It wasn’t always this way. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me.’ Of course it’s hard. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. working your brain into mush 101 . I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. My working life is unconventional certainly. it has to be hard. But I like unconventional. but please. even out of my depth.’ you might say. unpredictable definitely. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. I want to be out there experiencing everything. for sure. I hated it to pieces. I love being me. I love being overwhelmed.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. ‘Yea. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H. when you are hacking away in the right jungle.) If we don’t like it. At least when your sweat is vocational. (Oh yes we are. you are right. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. We all know about hard. Any job.’ 102 . It’s what we do on a daily basis. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right).’ We are where we are in life through choice. especially the ones you despise. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things. The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are.

I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. I don’t entertain it at all. But I don’t judge it either. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. like all addictions. Before I recount the lesson. So I don’t watch it anymore. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . I don’t really like it because. I don’t read it. I haven’t for many years. Sometimes it completely disempowers me.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. but it is true. well. I have a confession to make. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. Actually that is not entirely accurate. I do like pornography. it is my genes. In fact. it drains my energy.

So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. you closed the door to all your addictions. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. I want to be strong and I want to be free. Most people are infected with at least one of these. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. some people have them all.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. alcohol.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. gambling. pornography and people pleasing. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. all our wealth is locked into our addictions. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. For me. (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. 104 .

When you find yourself doing things against your own will. Like any drug you indulge. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . often dangerous. Like most people. you have to start asking yourself a few questions. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. The question I asked myself was.

The urge came on. many their lives. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. It had become a habitual cycle. I felt shit afterwards. And this is where the wasp comes in.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. but deep down we know that really we can’t. So I put down the empty glass. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. It is a true story. Many famous folks have ruined their careers. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. others their liberty. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. And weak. It needed to be stopped. Some lost their jobs. This is not a metaphor. When I opened my eyes 106 . I indulged it. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions.

I got the message. I never indulged my addiction again. flew off. he hovered. When he returned the third time he was more confident. landed. had a look around.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. when he was ready. took several globs of juice and. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. each time staying a little longer. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. 107 . He flew straight into the glass. each time more confident. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. Arrogant now. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. It landed briefly on the glass. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. He was still being careful. Until the final time. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108

THE POWER OF BOOKS

the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109

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One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

An ordinary person can reach the stars. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. ‘we all feel insecure at times. ‘Listen.’ he tells me. can feel insecure. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. a desperate sense of general failure. Geoff. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. can feel like giving it all up. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. The book cost eight pounds. But in his book he said. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority.

their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. He has given me the secret to inner power. It’s not enough time really. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. That’s why books were invented. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives. These people have left their stories. you could.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. That one single thing is ‘me. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. Once you have acquired this 112 . By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. and we all could do exactly the same thing.

113 . If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. The biographies of great people are simply that. If you make reading a habit. learn the lessons and put them into action. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. It’s great. read the stories.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. It’s so wonderful. street maps to life.

It was all he wanted to do. All he did was talk. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. He lived and breathed directing. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. I knew he was kidding himself. He wasn’t directing. they direct. He wanted to direct so he directed. Take Shane Meadows. He was not a member of any film groups. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. Directors do not talk.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film.

the financers. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. I have a friend who wants to write. he is going to invest in a course. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. he said. the producer. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. the designer. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. Then (after the director. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. the actors. Writing is his life. Neither was it the time or the tides. He has 115 . the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. As soon as his money situation is better. he got his mates and he got busy making films. It was only the money that was holding him back. He got a camera. Writers do not talk a good script. That is what directors do.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. They create their own favour. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. but because my friend does not really want them enough. next week or next year. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. whenever and wherever they can. They live and they breathe it. 116 . they find the money. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. It waits only for you. with the best folks on the planet. Martial artists train. the time. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. the permission.

Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. a red light for the majority. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. make it real now. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. And if you are scared. Jump and a net will appear. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Set a deadline date to make your first film. Sit and write. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. like the millions before.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. Discomfort is good. But nothing will move until you move. go and run. Now is the time to act. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. it does not exist. Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. 117 . before you. fate does not shape circumstance without action. GOOD.

’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. There is no Land Rover. You are on selection for the SAS. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won. It keeps me on track. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover.’ It keeps me sane. Picture the scene. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . There is… NO LAND ROVER. ‘There is no Land Rover. ‘There is no Land Rover.

’ So all the way around. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. maybe some food and bed. over hills and valleys. Jump in the back. 119 . have yourself a brew. take off your boots. The Land Rover. You quicken your pace. walking on blisters. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. at this point. Home. You smile for the first time in days. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. ‘How much further. do not continue on. past the graves of former aspirants. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. They have been tricked. When you ask him. working around strains and cuts and injuries. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert.’ Most people. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. you’re home. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar.

a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. Not even a foot beyond.’ And that becomes their mantra. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). but only when you’ve got 120 . Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. Regretfully. Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. There is no Land Rover. the Land Rover does not exist. sort of. and not beyond. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. Well. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. it does exist. there is instant enlightenment. ‘There is no Land Rover.

Until then there is no Land Rover. and the tea in your hand. 121 . It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. And that will remain my mantra. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. Until then is it little more than a phantom.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured.’ When the film is on screen.

‘Well yea. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). I had to tell someone. It’s what you do when providence lights your day.’ he said halfscoffing. Nick Park. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. still reeling from his unexpected response. I see. ‘Oh. half laughing. I assured myself that my 122 . who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver.

neither would I be the last. They called him insane. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. you know. Criticism. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. too. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was.S. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. or any others. and I should never let him. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. hold me back. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. giant-slaying industry. When the painter L.

’ he said. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us. He became global. nails full of shit – and said to him.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). but also perhaps because of them. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. ‘There must be more to life than this.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. This is a job for life. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret). ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. Lowry had the last laugh.’ 124 . I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. ‘you should be grateful.’ Seeking answers. not only in spite of his detractors.’ He laughed at me. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. ‘This is your lot.

I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. It was like a dry slap across the gob. 125 . I can do anything.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. We all can. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. go anywhere. And for those that laugh at my dreams. And I am still doing them. What he said next – not just the words. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. be whomever I want. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. never to return. This is my life. things I was told I could not – I did. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. All the things I wanted to do. And more.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. And look what happened to him.

I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. then lack 126 . far from it. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. or you harbour any doubts or fears. after six months of sitting on the throne writing. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller.’ Invariably.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. but if you haven’t. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time. In fact. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way.

hey. at some point in your development. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. I found the time. arguably the greatest football player of all time. I was fully committed to writing it. But by the same count. And. I wanted desperately to write a book. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. He 127 . Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. Pelé. Many a thriving. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. multi-million. elbow-greased tools.

my driving force. they never actually write it in the first place. I had no time. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. My only incentive. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. Or even worse. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores.

I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. if we fail to use it profitably. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. My want was always greater than my lack. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. Really! In my experience. I did desperately want to write. it accommodates committed souls. Paradoxically. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. make the grade. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. minute and hour in the present. time can be cruel. it can be stretched. time is very malleable. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. And I know how hard it can be.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). But as I said. those searching for the grail of achievement. it will be gone forever. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. if ever. never to be seen again. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. Now I make a commitment. 130 . For many reasons. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. nothing will stop you. I was once one of them. nothing will get in your way. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. If you want something enough.

I do hope so. I went for a walk in the 131 . Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow. In that dark void. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. You feel sort of needlessly tortured.

I liked this observation. as a consequence.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. that is. Until. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. Then I intuited something else. But today nature was not forthcoming. Nature has many lessons. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. Nothing I observed offered any solace. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. Immediately after the fall. It had been raining heavily all week and. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 .

WATERFALL

be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.

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Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. It needs to be brought forward and done now. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. It’s official. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. you know. the time is never quite right. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. So. in a hurry. We get to choose the meat of the story. all those plans that you have on the back burner. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. Now that I have depressed you. Scary. here’s the good news. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. there isn’t a tomorrow. this minute. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. pronto. We’re dying. I find. The novel that you want to write. see. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. We already know how the story ends. as quick as your little legs will carry you.

we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. They just know that they only have one shot at it. Fill your bowl.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. Tomorrow is just another version of now. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. Your time. 137 . It doesn’t even exist. Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. They’re not greedy. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once.

It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. And now is the time. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. whatever. that determines where our lives may lead. not tomorrow. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. while the inspiration is high. a tobogganist. She’s stood us up. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. this minute. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. it never arrives. There is no time like the present. the right time never arrives. how we invest it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. Give it up and be a painter. you’ll have achieved so 138 . We all have the same amount of minutes. a writer. We wait. It’s just what we do with our time. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post.

He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 .WE ARE ALL DYING much. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm. Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes.

treading the world stage with the greats. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. Not that he’d never had a purpose. It is easily done.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. My friend had once courted high aspirations. He was living without a purpose. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 . rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something.

‘It’s all bollocks. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. or what is expected of him.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself). I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. look at what a failure I am. ‘Poor me. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success.’ 141 . my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. In colloquial speak. In the whole scope of things none of this is important.

I tell them they are wrong. I tell you. No more and no less. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. Forget income. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. forget the government. Forget what you think and are told is impossible. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. Forget society.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. I have friends on six. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. Forget responsibilities. Forget what others want and expect and demand. Forget expectation. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work.

What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. It was my job to train for a living. Similarly. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.’ Of course it’s difficult. It was a cup of tea! The taste. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. rich poets. wealthy martial artists.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. And I did train. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers.’ To which I usually reply. the texture. I’ve got people relying on me. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. It is not that easy. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. And anyway. and certainly the most difficult 143 . Only that it was possible. the smell. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. the feel – it was almost miraculous.

And what a heap of horseshit. ‘it’s who you know’). So hard is where it is at. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. 144 . I was a changed man. How noble. walk under it or over it. knew someone on the inside (because. It is the prerequisite to success. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. End of story. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. as we all know. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. They wine because they feel overlooked. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. had it easy. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. hard-done-by or elbowed out. undervalued. If you are good enough you make it. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. All those who walk around it.

I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. This is important. To be the very best though. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. world class.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. He was asking for my advice. global.’ She was so right. though he was unsure of what that something might be. give yourself an honest check-up. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. I would say that four elements need to be in place. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. He wanted to find it again. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. He also wanted to be the best at something.’ She looked at him and said said to me. He could be world class. I remember looking at one of my friends. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). He had lost his purpose. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. ‘This guy has got so much potential. I said to Sharon. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . I can’t work out what is holding him back. ‘He thinks he is world class already.

usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. If your purpose is not clear. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. From my experience. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. it’ll find you when you are ready. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. son.’ His dad looked at him and said. they can’t always work out what. This needs to be someone that you trust.’ he said. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . you have to make sure the second element is in place. a search is in order. ‘Dad.

Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. it is about making that talk ‘walk. It is about reading it.’ And walk. seeing it. hearing it. feeling it. And walk. what you do needs to be something that. supping it through the froth of your beer. if you want to aim high. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. 4) Ironically.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. eventually. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . watching it. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. If you are not sure that you can. talking it (but not too much talking). eating it with your breakfast. maybe you feel too old. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. They talk. too young. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. writing it. despite all the elements. Once you have your four elements in place. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. And talking doesn’t make a champion. smelling it. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil.

If you want to be the best. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. Don’t let it down. you can say.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. ‘Hey. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. But that’s good. stop talking and start doing. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. If this is a time of confusion for you. a time of struggle. Beware. 148 .

My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. ‘And even if it is. It might help to know that you are not alone. often even after major successes. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments).’ they say to me. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. They just 149 .Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible.

’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. the easier it gets. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. Loads of people have the facts. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. but perhaps because of it. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. and even use his fears as a fuel. It took me a long time to believe in myself. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. A plethora of folks can 150 . It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting.

Salinger never published again. Expect the fear. it is the pre-requisite. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. books to novels. Expect discomfort. It is not the art of knowing. criticism. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again. despair and the occasional failure. Expect trepidation. set-backs.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. write anyway. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. novels to films or films to 151 . All the gold is in the pain. depression. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. So to be a writer just keep writing. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. it is the art of doing.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. knockbacks. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. put-downs. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking.

Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. To get the gold. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. sailor – more than the norm. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. tinker. They liked you as you were and where you were. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. soldier. 152 . you have to get past the fear. tailor. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. martial artist. Close friends.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. but it is not. nothing is.

I do. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I think it’s long overdue.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. I love it. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out.

but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. Don’t get me wrong. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. It was at this point I had a great realisation. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. and the brain has several forms of nutrition.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. health was up. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right. performance improved. it is cerebral food. it relies upon it for growth. But even with my food in place there was still something missing. Energy was up. Thinking comes through and from the brain. This is not a statement of metaphor. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. Information is a literal food for the brain. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. the mainstay being information.

and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. hang out with. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. admire and mimic. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Even your environment feeds your brain. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. listen to on the radio. marry. read. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air.

I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. Equally. If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. Like physical diet. Here’s the good news and the bad news. you only get the one set). Good news first. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. The good results only last as long as the good information. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. cerebral diet can be changed. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. Like physical diet. Bad news. If you have the foresight and the courage. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. Your environment and influences. Stop pretending that 156 . And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion.

So ingest what you want to be.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. You are what you ingest. 157 .

Ultimately. no matter what it does. and eventually. . Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’. it believes that it cannot escape. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. that you would never be able to go it alone in business.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India.

now a martial arts expert.That with the right strategy and approach. The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper. the first self-help guide of its kind. you will learn: .Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. success is always a choice . In Shape Shifter. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. screenwriter. knows this better than most. step by step .99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky.That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .How to practise the art of personal transformation. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field.

www.summersdale.geoffthompson.com www.com .

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